Service modernizers deliver results to delight CFOs

Rick Gustafson Profile picture for user rgustafson November 20, 2016
Customers speak about the business impact of modernizing field service and producing results that will delight CFOs, writes ServiceMax CFO Rick Gustafson

ServiceMax customer panel at Maximize EMEA 370px ©
Rick Gustafson, Lucio Golinelli, Mussy Kurt-Elli at Maximize Europe

The sentiment “adapt or die” is nothing new. It’s a phrase that in one form or another I’d wager has been uttered since the discovery of fire.

But now, in the context of technological disruption and the next industrial revolution, it’s never been more relevant. ServiceMax customers made that much clear this month at our annual user conference Maximize Europe. And no one can make the business impact clearer than your customers.

Mussy Kurt-Elli, CEO of QubeGB, which provides services to telecommunication providers, summed up the sentiment with a challenge to conventional wisdom:

If it’s not broken don’t fix it – that’s the best approach, right? It’s actually the wrong approach.

How do you know what’s coming around the corner? The input parameters and requirements keep changing. You have to evolve and processes have to change.

In a recent survey of nearly 150 of ServiceMax customers who’ve modernized their service organizations, we found three key themes where companies see the most value in doing so: increases in customer satisfaction, revenue, and profitability. This is the stuff that makes executives salivate.

Companies like QubeGB and Sky Italia in the telecommunications sector, and Elekta and IBA in the medical device space, are leveraging cloud, mobile and IoT technologies to position their service organization as a core piece of their overall strategies.

These results of disruption aren’t mere hypotheses – they’re actually happening.

Profitability through customer satisfaction

As the old adage goes, it’s about five times pricier to attract new customers than to keep current ones. Churn gets expensive, and you’re not going to minimize that with unhappy customers.

Lucio Golinelli, senior director of service and delivery with satellite TV provider Sky Italia, noted in a response to a question I posed in a panel discussion at Maximize that:

It’s clear the world is evolving and the customer is evolving.

The customer is asking for something different. They want to sign digitally, interface with mobile technicians, not paper.

We stress customer experience and it has a very strong connection with churn rate. When we serve [the customer] well the first time without making any mistakes, our customer churn is lower.

Our same survey showed that modernizing field service operations led to an average 18% reduction in repair time, fueled in large part by enabling technicians to fix downed equipment on the first visit. The survey also showed our customers noted an 11% boost in Net Promoter Score – the single most important measure of your customer sentiment.

Clearly, evolving with customers who are asking for new technology, faster and more effective services and more productive technician interactions requires a new approach to service.

Managing the growth

Kurt-Elli with QubeGB noted that since the company had modernized service it had reduced workflows from approximately 400 down to 90, enabling it to shift the way customers book services, and created efficiencies to increase the number of jobs it can take on to 60,000 from 50,000 per month. He explained:

We have finite resources and are trying to give clients the ability to have infinite bookings – you have to make sure this doesn’t push you into the limits where you don’t have an [available] engineer slot.

That outcome, he noted, could lead to upset customers when they aren’t getting their equipment serviced. So it’s key to manage it correctly with an automated modern field service platform that supports a well-trained workforce, he said:

[An engineer] could go into domestic situation – it could be a conflict situation. You’re there to resolve a problem for people. You want to come out of that situation satisfying the customer. That’s what we train them on. That’s our focus.

For Eddy Crits, the chief information officer at Ion Beam Applications (IBA), a 30-year-old medical device manufacturer that makes proton therapy machines for detecting and treating cancer, service plays a central role in providing the full spectrum of care for patients:

If look at this more broadly, when we talk about treating a patient who has cancer, it’s not only about the equipment – it’s about the whole value chain. We plan, execute, and follow up with the patient – the whole thing. We want to be an integral part of that.

With something like treating cancer, you can imagine a “customer experience,” such as it is, can mean the difference between life and death.

Don’t be the last mover

Wrapping up his keynote, ServiceMax CEO Dave Yarnold noted that in the fifteen years since the software-as-a-service model has gone mainstream, every industry and major software provider has been upended by it. Not so coincidentally, this movement has paved the way for post-sale service to enter the core of companies’ strategic direction. And this – to us, of course – is a good thing. Not least because of the impact it can have on metrics that CFOs care about.

It’s moves like that, which collectively will help usher in the next industrial revolution. Yarnold concluded:

If you’re not getting ahead of the trend, you need to be. We’ll stand here 15 years from today and we’ll be much further ahead than in the equivalent time before. I urge you to push forward.

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